CONTEXT: Interval throwing programs (ITP) have long been used in the physical therapy setting to aid in the safe and efficacious return to sport for an overhead athlete. However, the overall utilization and variation of interval throwing programs are unknown in the physical therapy setting leading to potential inconsistencies in treatment paradigms.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if differences in practice patterns exist among active physical therapists of various experience levels with regards to years of experience and advanced certifications.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey study.
PARTICIPANTS: 133 licensed physical therapists consented to participate in an online-based survey. Experience groups were delineated based on years of practice (0-1, 1-5, 6-15, 15+) and possession of advanced certification.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: For ranking-based data, a generalized linear mixed-model was repeated across criteria response with a Bonferroni Post-Hoc adjustment for pairwise comparisons made within and between groups (α < 0.05). For degree-based questions, chi-square analysis was used to compare response frequencies for options provided within each question.
RESULTS: A 76.7% response-rate was achieved with 102 out of the 133 consenting individuals completed the survey. Significant differences (p<0.05) were found with responses to both ranking-based and degree-based questions. However, across all groups, physical therapists agreed that throwing mechanics and customized ITP implementation were important for a successful return to throwing.
CONCLUSIONS: There are inherent differences in ITP prescription among physical therapists with dissimilar experience levels. The possession of advanced certifications and years of practice seem to play a role in how interval programs are prescribed to overhead throwing athletes. This study helps to identify differences in current physical therapy approaches towards the later stages of rehabilitation for throwing athletes. Further research should identify areas of improvement in physical therapist education as well as appropriate ITP prescription parameters to optimize care and treatment for this patient population.
- Journal Article